Do Accountants Really Kill Innovation?

Do accountants really kill innovation? Yes, sometimes, according to an Australian study recently presented in a blog post while the authors are awaiting the journal publication. Another blog post lists 56 reasons for why innovation initiatives often fail. A third discusses whether peace and harmony is good or not for innovation activities. What do you think? Read on to learn about actionable and inspirational posts from the world of innovation blogs.
Who in a firm should be responsible for highly innovative projects? Here is an attempt at an answer supported by some interesting arguments: Pick your heavy-weighters to lead innovative projects. That is, do NOT pick your promising, but young and untried talents. While the argument definitely is interesting, one must at the same time not ignore the benefits of increasing the number of experienced managers in the firm, by letting unproven talents take on large responsibilities at some point.

So why do leaders often put inexperienced talents in charge of innovative projects? I believe that this article from Business week can offer one part of the explanation: Why CEO’s don’t get innovation.

a quick and easy way to audit your innovative capabilities

My favorite blog post this time around is labeled How accountants kill innovation. It offers a summary of a as of yet unpublished but very interesting Australian study. The results indicate that some of the standard accounting tools used to evaluate innovative projects can sometimes actually perform worse than having no systematic tools at all to select innovative projects!

A recurring theme in this column is the task of internally “selling” innovative project concepts to your boss. This time I would like to recommend the blog Innovate on Purpose’s advice on that topic. While your visiting their site, you might also enjoy this post about why you can’t “can” innovation.

Meanwhile, the blog Business Strategy and Innovation has offered a post that can be used as a quick and easy way to audit your firm’s innovative capabilities: 56 reasons why innovation initiatives fail. I also recommend the post called Seven keys to innovation – European style on the same blog.

Why peace and harmony are bad for innovation

The well respected INSEAD institution has released this years global innovation index report. New for this year’s report is that the US has dropped below the top 10 in the ranking. Iceland receives the best rating in the index and Sweden is ranked as second best. Of course, this is not the only index of its kind and one could fairly question how the researchers could measure something as contingent as innovation prerequisites by the statistics available for global comparisons. Still, the report is probably useful reading for anyone interested in innovation policy or a manager at a firm considering where to set up its new R&D center. Unfortunately, this year’s report doesn’t seem to be available online yet. 2009′s report can be found here.

HBR editor Andrew O’Connell has some good points about why it can be hard for the producing organization to know what the real value of an idea is to consumers in his blog post “Don’t abandon ideas that flop“. Here are some other useful posts from HBR that stood out in the flood of posts related to innovation management from the last few weeks: What makes an idea take off?, Does repeat collaboration really kill creativity?, The 2-minute opportunity check-list for entrepreneurs and Why peace and harmony are bad for innovation.

As per usual, I round off this column with a blog post of practical nature in your daily work. This time I want to recommend a getting things done blog/newsletter, which is called “Done!” (also available in Swedish as “Klart!”). If you subscribe to the newsletter, every Monday you get one brief and to-the-point suggestion by an experienced professional of how to become more productive while juggling a large number of responsibilities simultaneously.

Your comments are welcome!

Do you know of a blog post that you would like to see here next time? Do you have any comments on the links presented here? Are some of them broken or not accessible from your network? Would you like more focus on peer-reviewed journals or more focus on pure blogs? Feel free to send an email to

About Marcus Linder

Marcus LinderMarcus Linder researches environmental innovation among industrial firms at Chalmers University of Technology. Focus areas include strategic rationale and the practical how-to of including environmental aspects in the innovation process. An important starting point is that profitable environmental innovation often requires more than just “quick-fixing” a firm’s existing offers. Theoretically, Marcus is grounded in the problem-solving perspective on management, a subset of the knowledge-based view of the firm. In terms of applied innovation management, his main passion lies in business model design. He is currently employed as a PhD student at Center for Business Innovation at Chalmers University of Technology. Before starting his PhD studies, Marcus successfully performed a business innovation project at CBI culminating in a new product concept now planned for market introduction by Göteborg Energi.